Nowadays, it seems somebody is always making a comeback, like the reaction of drinking too much Calico Jack (word to prom night). Sometimes, these comebacks can be refreshing and good for hip hop (NaS), and sometimes they can be immensely disappointing (Eminem). Still, whether a rapper is back on the booth after a prison stretch (Black Rob), returning to form or prominence after years on the decline (again, NaS), unretiring (Jay-Z), or just has been away from the mic for awhile (Rakim), comebacks often make the news.
Supposedly coming up in the next year or so are five major hip hop comebacks, with four once-prominent MCs and one infamous duo attempting to rediscover their footing. TRU breaks down each situation, as well as offers predictions on each comeback’s outcome. Peep the crystal ball.
Type of comeback: released (again) from prison
Dark Man X, known to Uncle Sam as Earl Simmons, was imprisoned in November 2010 for violating his probation through drug use. Released in July, X vowed to come back hard with another album, tentatively titled Redemption of the Beast.
Before self-destructing, DMX made some great music. If he can stay focused, he could use his commanding mic presence to make more dope music. However, that’s a very big “if.” Admittedly having struggled with bipolar disorder and having had a slew of legal troubles throughout his career, X seems too unstable to craft a worthy comeback album. He also came out of prison and immediately hurled insults at Jay-Z, which is never a smart action to take.
Type of comeback: return to prominence
Since his album Reality Check topped the Billboard charts in 2006, Juvenile has been pretty quiet from a commercial standpoint. While high soundscan numbers don’t necessarily equal good music, it has to be frustrating for a bling-bling rapper like Juve to have fallen out of the spotlight. That’s probably why he is hyped for his next album, 800 Degreez: Rejuvenation, which is set for release sometime in 2012.
While titling his album 800 Degreez will most likely draw automatic comparisons to his late ’90s banger 400 Degreez, Juve should be up to the challenge. Having laid low for the past year, Juvenile is back working with Mannie Fresh, who produced 400 Degreez in its entirety. Disregarding any potential out-of-the-blue sidetracking events, Juvenile should be poised for a return to prominence.
Type of comeback: (Prodigy’s) release from prison
Mobb Deep hasn’t released an album since 2006 when they put out the weak, G-Unit-distributed Blood Money. Since then, Prodigy has served a three-year sentence for gun possession. However, upon being released earlier this year, Prodigy and Havoc got right to work on new music.
Recently, Prodigy stated that the new Mobb Deep album should be out by the end of the year, and fans should expect “that hard sh*t, son.” If the Nas-assisted joint “Dog Sh*t” is any indication, hip-hop heads should be in for a treat.
Type of comeback: released (again) from prison.
After being released from prison after serving time for weapons convictions, T.I. came out promising his new album to be as big a deal as when 2Pac released All Eyez on Me after being bailed out of jail. However, several mediocre promo singles and a probation violation kept him from coming through on that promise, and Tip was sentenced to more prison time. While inside, his album No Mercy was released. The album, which seems to have been rushed in order for completion before Tip began his sentence, is arguably his worst effort to date. Set for release from prison September 29, Tip is promising a return to making dope music.
Although T.I. will most likely keep his nose clean this time (if or no reason than he’s sick of being locked up), almost all of the music he released in 2010 indicates that his best days are behind him. However, Tip has surprised me before, so I could be wrong on this one. Still, I’m not holding my breath.
Type of comeback: a return to the mic after several years off
Will Smith hasn’t released an album since Lost & Found in 2004. Since then, he’s been nominated for another Oscar and has helped his children start their own acting careers. Will’s daughter, Willow, also recorded the catchy “Whip My Hair” and is signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. Speaking of S-Dot, he was seen this summer hanging with Will on the set of Annie- a film adaptation of the musica-, which will star Willow. More recently, popular producer Mars stated that he was in the studio working on Will’s comeback album with him.
In the words of my colleague and fellow TRUbianZillz, Will Smith doesn’t not win. The key for Smith will be to largely avoid crowing to a younger club audience; those days are over. If he can make grown-man rap a la “Just the Two of Us” he should be golden. Maybe he will even collaborate with Jay-Z for his new album. Hey, a guy can dream, right?